My shift eventually ends, I eat some of the unsold stale food, and head home. I walk in and Karen is mercifully quiet. Iris and her girlfriend Christina are watching TV. Well, sort of. They seem like they’re using it as an excuse to cuddle on the couch. You know, I wish I could rewatch shows and movies. I mean, you sort of can, but they play differently every time you watch them. I wish you could see them the same way you saw it the first time, every time.
I see bags of chips, snacks, and drinks on the kitchen counter. “Oh, is something going on tonight?” I ask them.
“Some of our friends are coming by soon to hang,” Iris says.
“Oh. I kind of would have liked a heads up, but alright I guess,” I say back.
“What’s the problem? It’s just a few people.”
“I’ve already told you that I – forget it. Could you just make sure to keep it down after dark?”
“We’re playing horror games tonight, so no promises, but we’ll do our best.”
I drag my feet to my room and plop face first into my bed. I was going to spend my evening collapsed on this bed until I gathered the motivation to get up and avoid bed time in order to feel like I did something today, but now I have to do it with more people in the house. I’m gonna wait here until I can guess how many people are coming. I hear the gate slam, followed by the thunder of high heels.
“LADIES!!” I hear with boisterous enthusiasm. Ah, Josemarie is home.
“TONIGHT, WE HAVE COCONUTS!! WE CAN PARTAKE THE GIFT OF ONE GOD WHILE WE TEMPT THE WRATH OF ANOTHER!”
“Josemarie, we live on an island. Coconuts are everywhere. What’s the big deal?” Christina asks.
“Whatever mija, how often do you put the time aside to feast on one of these raw, anyway? It’s gonna be great!”
“Pretty sure you don’t have anything in the house to open them.”
“Escuse you! I have multiple weapons and tools at my disposal. They’re called my fists and my thighs!”
I can practically hear Josemarie flexing. Gosh she’s great. Maybe tonight will be okay after all.
“Ramiii!” Josemarie shouts. “I saw that you brought home some mangos! Are you cool with sharing? You can have my coconuts and I can have your mangos,” she laughs as she puts down her bags.
God, what a dork. “Yeah, okay. I’ll be down in a bit, alright?” I say back.
Alright, time to get up. Gonna lift my butt up and then, with some extra effort, the head. I wonder why the head’s always the hardest thing to get off the bed? I slowly slide out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Josemarie exclaims a cry of delight and gives me a bear hug that lifts me off the ground, which is kind of a feat considering we’re both hefty gals. She sets me down and moves to the table. I start to hear music outside. At least, I think it’s music. I can hear a guitar, a güiro, some singing, and...something else. What is that? It’s awfully metallic, kind of grating and rattling. It’s getting louder. The noise bursts through the door with a troupe of people.
A lady playing the guitar, a man playing the güiro, and a man playing the...“is that a drill and a tin pot?” I can’t help but ask out loud.
“I’m adding some industrial noise to add some horror music flair,” he responds.
Iris and Christina get up and hugs and kisses are shared all around. After a round of “hello”’s and “How are you”’s I go and have a seat in a chair by the door in order to try and catch some of the breeze by the window. Everyone chats and snacks for a while, while I’m perfectly content to stay in my seat listening. I’m still pretty worn out from work, so I try not to look bored while I rest. Iris heads to the TV and turns on the console under it. “So, what’s it going to be today? What are we starting with? Three Fingers? Rightfully Gone? Or what about The Dead?” Güiro dude puts up three fingers.
“Why don’t we start with vengeance by playing Rightfully Gone, then work our way towards regret by playing The Dead?” Josemarie suggests.
“Works for me,” agrees Iris.
She starts the game. Time passes.
We’ve passed around the controller a few times now. It’s tense. There hasn’t been as much artifacting and glitches as there would be, normally. Sometimes you’d get part of an ad superimposed on a wall. Other times you’d get discolored characters you might recognize from other places just kind of drift across the screen. You’ll also occasionally have parts of audio or sound effects play interlaced where the regular audio should be. Expensive TVs don’t have this problem though, because they’re never connected to the internet. But alas. You get used to it, mostly. It’s garbage, but what can you do. It’s still good enough. Anyway, we have the antagonist cornered. After a long game of cat and mouse, taking turns hiding, running, getting weapons and temporarily gaining the upper hand, we’ve finally got him. We’re just about to enact the fatal blow when the antagonist freezes up, does a little jig with all of their limbs moving in unnatural directions, and gives us the finger while a 90s boy band song plays in the background. “BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE,” the boys sing as the antagonist slides backward and clips through the wall.
Silence. Confusion. We look at each other, puzzled.
“AH AHHAH H HHAHAHHHHHA AHHA HAH AHA AHAAHAAA!” we hear from behind us.
“Oh, FUCK YOU Karen!” Iris yells.
Karen keeps laughing. “Oh, man! That was great. Thanks, Bob! That took a while to set up, but it was so worth it. I’m looking at the pic Bob took of all of you and it’s priceless, I love it.”
“Wait, Bob? Who’s Bob?” I ask.
“Bob. You know, Bob the entertainment center. They actually have a lot going on in there, so they’re not as put together as I am. We talk, but it’s too hard for them to speak so you can understand. Not that you’d listen, anyway.” Karen responds.
“Oh shit. Hi Bob, my bad,” I say in the direction of the TV. I wave.
“Alright, that was a mood killer. I need a drink,” says Güiro dude as he gets up to go to the kitchen.
“Yeah, let’s just play some cards or something,” groans Christina.
“Yup. You sure got me, Karen,” Josemarie chuckles. “Alright, time for a break,” she says, rubbing her hands together as she gets up. She heads to the table, grabs one of the coconuts and shouts “...and HA!” while taking the coconut and breaking it in half with her bare hands. The room cheers.Next